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7 best yoga mats for perfecting your downward dog at home

The Independent logo The Independent 29/07/2022 Alice Barraclough

Hands up if, like us, you’ve spent one too many yoga classes sliding off your yoga mat in downward dog simply because you couldn’t get any form of grip during a sweaty flow?

We know we’re not alone – we’ve seen other yogis carefully place sweat towels at the front of their mats, hoping they will absorb any unwanted moisture during their practice. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Yoga mats should offer the grippiest of grips – even when the sweat is pouring – not resemble a slippery ice rink.

Whether you’re already committed to a daily practice or brand new to yoga, one thing is for sure: you need a durable yoga mat that offers support, cushioning and grip (after all, the last thing you need is chaturanga-induced carpet burn).

A yoga mat should be easy to clean and carry, and double up for your pilates and HIIT workouts, too. Most yoga studios will usually provide yoga mats free of charge but – in our opinion – it’s better (and way more hygienic) to get sweaty on your very own mat that you can roll up and take home.

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How we tested

In order to find and test the very best yoga mats on the market, first, we had to narrow down the search (google “yoga mats” and you’ll get something ridiculous like 58,600,000 results). We noted the brands commonly used at some of London’s top boutique yoga studios, scoured through hundreds of reviews on Amazon and stalked some of our favourite yogi influencers on Instagram to see which mat they used.

We also talked to big-name labels to find out what was new in their lines and to third-party stockists to get a sense of their best-selling yoga mats.

The following mats were tested at home, putting each through everything from fast-paced vinyasa flow to low-voltage yin – we even tested their ability to withstand burpees and jumping lunges during online HIIT classes. We marked each of them on their size, weight, grip, thickness, surface texture and durability. These are the ones that were the perfect balance of functional and affordable.

The best yoga mats for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Yogi Bare paws natural rubber yoga mat: £74, Thesportsedit.com
  • Best double-sided yoga mat – Lululemon reversible yoga mat: £68, Lululemon.co.uk
  • Best grippy yoga mat – Liforme yoga mat: £100, Liforme.com
  • Best for at-home yoga practice – Fable pro grip studio yoga mat: £69, Fableyoga.com
  • Best cushioned yoga mat – Lululemon take form yoga mat: £118, Lululemon.co.uk
  • Best travel yoga mat – Kin yoga mats ‘halcyon stone’ travel mat: £55, Kinyogamats.com
  • Best lightweight yoga mat – Manduka eko lite yoga mat: £56, Thesportsedit.com

Yogi Bare paws natural rubber yoga mat

© Provided by The Independent

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

  • Size: 180cm x 66cm
  • Weight: 2.5kg
  • Thickness: 4mm

UK, eco-friendly brand Yogi Bare was founded by Kat Pither in 2017 after she discovered yoga as a way of helping to manage acute anxiety and PTSD. The story goes that after becoming a 50-hour certified yoga teacher, Kat found that the world of yoga often felt alienating and unaffordable and therefore set out to create a brand that could inspire anyone and everyone to practise yoga with accessible, eco-centric products.

Yogi Bare’s wild paws natural rubber yoga mat is their signature mat – and we’re huge fans. With ultra-grip tech that gets stronger the more you sweat, this mat offers extreme security so you’ll never be sliding around. While its mid-level thickness and simple style mean it’s perfect for both entry-level and full-blown yogis alike.

The Wild Paws yoga mat is slightly oversized – it’s longer and wider than a standard mat – which gives you some breathing room for those trickier poses, but doesn’t feel overbearingly large or takes up lots of space in a cramped class. We particularly like the deep-forest green colour. Crafted from sustainable and biodegradable materials and non-toxic, water-based inks, we also love Yogi Bare’s passion for sustainability. Earlier this year, they introduced a new recycling mat scheme, and for every Wild Paws mat sold, they plant a tree.

Buy now £74.00, Thesportsedit.com

Lululemon the (un) mat reversable yoga mat

© Provided by The Independent

Best: Double-sided yoga mat

Rating: 9/10

  • Size: 180cm x 66cm
  • Weight: 2.38 kg
  • Thickness: 5mm

With an extra millimetre of thickness, and coming in a tad lighter than the Yogi Bare option (£74, Thesportsedit.com), Lululemon’s reversible yoga mat is also longer and wider than a standard mat. But what makes this mat rank so highly is how grippy it is.

Even through the sweatiest of sessions, we still managed to feel rooted in our poses thanks to its smooth, super-sticky polyurethane top layer. Honestly, your hands and feet won’t budge. If, however, you prefer a yoga mat with more padding, just flip it over and use the spongy rubber side (which is a lot kinder on the knees). It did have a faint rubbery smell when we first unrolled it, but that definitely faded with time. It’s also worth noting that this mat shows sweat marks, so be sure to spritz and scrub your mat after you use it.

If you’re after a super-sized yoga mat to really stretch out during practice, this reversible mat is available in a “big” size – 213cm x 71cm – too (£88, Lululemon.co.uk). It’s a monster, but unfortunately currently out of stock.

Buy now £68.00, Lululemon.co.uk

Liforme yoga mat

 (Liforme) © Provided by The Independent (Liforme)

Best: Grippy yoga mat

Rating: 9/10

  • Size: 185cm x 68cm
  • Weight: 2.5kg
  • Thickness: 4.2mm

If you’re looking for a mat that’ll make you feel a bit more secure, then Liforme’s yoga mat is a favourite among the yoga instructors we talked to. Featuring the brand’s GripForMe material – this mat stays grippy even when “sweaty-wet”, so you won’t slip around. The PVC-free, natural rubber is also eco-friendly and it’s thick enough to provide a little cushioning.

When we tested the Liforme mat, we loved how handy the alignment markers were – and imagine these will be particularly useful for any complete newbies needing a subtle guide on where to place their hands and feet in downward dog or lunges. Plus, alongside Fable’s yoga mat (£69, Fableyoga.com), this is the longest and widest on our list – giving you all the space you could possibly want or need.

If the price seems somewhat high, then we’re here to assure you that it’s worth the investment – especially if you have a religious daily practice. An extra nice touch? The Liforme yoga mat comes with its very own complimentary yoga mat bag – featuring an adjustable shoulder strap and a wide opening to make accessing your mat seamless.

Buy now £100.00, liforme.com

Fable pro grip studio yoga mat

© Provided by The Independent

Best: For at-home practices

Rating: 8/10

  • Size: 185cm x 68cm
  • Weight: 3.2kg
  • Thickness: 4mm

Weighing 3.2kg, this Pro Grip Studio yoga mat from Fable isn’t light to carry around – so we’d recommend keeping this one for at-home practice (and save yourself from lugging it back and forth from the yoga studio in your bag or on your back). Crafted using natural tree rubber and PU for stability and cushioning, these stylish-looking mats are more sustainable than most as they’re made from naturally sourced and biodegradable materials and free from any nasties, including PVC, toxic inks and glues.

Available in eight aesthetically-pleasing colours – we love the hot pink one – each of them has a sleek, simple, dotted design to help you with your alignment in standing postures. We found its non-slip upper stayed grippy, and seriously appreciated its extra length and width. Even our cats liked it (although, if you have pets, do be mindful to roll it away after your practice, or you may end up with hundreds of little scratch marks embedded in it like ours). Plus, similar to Yogi Bare (£74, Thesportsedit.com), for every mat Fable sell, they plant a tree, collaborating with their charity partners Tree-Nation.

Buy now £69.00, Fableyoga.com

Lululemon take form yoga mat

© Provided by The Independent

Best: Cushioned yoga mat

Rating: 8/10

  • Size: 180cm x 66cm
  • Weight: 2.24kg
  • Thickness: 5mm

If you have any sensitivities in your joints or your back, you may prefer the softness of a thicker mat – and Lululemon’s newest addition, the Take Form yoga mat, certainly feels more plush and supportive than the others on this list. With a fancy integrated 3D design, this mat features circular patterns that feel ever-so-slightly raised, rippling outwards towards the edges of the mat like pools of water.

The idea is that the raised ripples will help users feel aligned and grounded during their practice, helping you to feel your way around the mat without needing to look down or even open your eyes. But we found that each ripple is so subtle, we actually hardly noticed them.

That said, alignment mats can be useful if you don’t have a yoga instructor hovering over you and actively monitoring and tweaking your form. Comfy, cool-looking, and non-slip, this mat is a little longer and wider than most and is made from a natural rubber material, too.

Buy now £118.00, Lululemon.co.uk

Kin yoga mats ‘halcyon stone’ travel mat

© Provided by The Independent

Best: Travel yoga mat

Rating: 8/10

  • Size: 177cm x 66cm
  • Weight: 1.4kg
  • Thickness: 2mm

Beautiful and tactile, this travel mat from British brand Kin is super light and thin – so it’s incredibly easy to tote around, but perhaps not one to choose if you like lots of support. We found this mat came into its own during​ hot and ashtanga practices due to how soft and absorbent it is.

It’s made from microfibre and sustainable natural rubber, and even comes with a free yoga strap – plus, yoga teachers get a discount, too. And if you like the style of these travel mats, you should check out their collection of standard mats (£59, Kinyogamats.com) as well.

The founder – yoga teacher and breathwork practitioner Laura Pearce – wanted to move away from the plain, mainstream mats available on the market and commission a different designer to design each Kin mat, so there are some really special prints. Whether you want to dance on clouds, wiggle through enchanted forests or flow over magical starscapes is entirely up to you. After all, the last thing you want when moving into downward dog is to be face-to-face with a boring yoga mat, right?

Buy now £55.00, Kinyogamats.com

Manduka eko lite yoga mat

© Provided by The Independent

Best: Lightweight yoga mat

Rating: 7/10

  • Size: 180cm x 61cm
  • Weight: 2.3kg
  • Thickness: 4mm

If you’re a semi-regular yogi, you’ll probably have practised on a Manduka mat before – as they’re are often found in yoga studios. The Pro Yoga mat (£112, Thesportsedit.com) may be the brand’s best-seller, thanks to being 100 per cent latex-free and super easy to clean (it also comes with a lifetime guarantee) but, coming in £35 cheaper, their Eko Lite mat is a lot kinder to the planet.

Designed by yoga teachers, and made from entirely natural materials, this mat contains no nasty chemicals and is slightly smaller (and lighter!) than the others on this list – minus the Kin travel mat (£55, Kinyogamats.com), of course. We did find this the most slippery of mats to practice on – but, apparently, this is not unusual for Manduka mats, and you do have to “break them in”. We’re hoping that the more we use this one, the stronger the grip will get and the break-in period won’t last too long.

If, however, you still find it slippery after three or so months, we’ve been told to try washing the mat with a natural rubber mat wash to maintain grip. We personally preferred the texture of the sticky rubber mats to this sealed surface mat, but it’s definitely down to personal preference (and how much you sweat).

It’s currently out of stock, but you can sign up to receive a notification when this mat is back.

Buy now £56.00, Thesportsedit.com

Yoga mat FAQs

What type of yoga mat is best for beginners?

Before buying your first yoga mat, there are a few things you need to consider. Firstly, think about what type of floor it will be used on – if the mat doesn’t have enough grip, on hardwood or tile floors it may be difficult to balance in various poses.

Additionally, a non-slip mat will be helpful when working up a sweat or when practising hot yoga in a heated room. If you plan to transport your mat between your home and classes, then look for one that’s lightweight and rolls up easily.

The thicker the mat, the more cushioning it will provide for sensitive knees and wrists, and you’ll be able to use it for other exercises too, such as pilates.

What thickness mat is best for yoga?

Thicker yoga mats are a great option to provide extra support for anyone who suffers from knee pain, sensitive wrists or is looking to practise hatha or restorative yoga.

Most standard yoga mats usually measure 3mm thick, while a thick yoga mat starts at approximately 5mm. However, the most important thing to consider when picking one is your own personal comfort.

How to clean a yoga mat?

Depending on how often you practice and the intensity of your sessions, you can usually go a week or so before your mat needs a thorough clean. But, if you tend to sweat a lot or find that your mat retains an odour, it is best to clean it more often.

For a quick spot clean, you can buy ready-made antibacterial sprays that are designed to be used on both sides of the yoga mat to kill off any germs and eliminate odours. Alternatively, you can mix a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid and two cups of warm water into a spray bottle.

It is also important to check your mat’s specific cleaning recommendations. While some can be spot cleaned only, others are hand-washable and some can even be put in the washing machine on a gentle cycle.

Is there a difference between a fitness mat and an exercise mat?

While it is fine to use just one mat for all forms of exercise, there is a difference between fitness and yoga mats. Those designed solely for yoga are often thinner, longer and have more grip, while standard exercise mats can be a bit thicker to offer extra support for higher-impact workouts.

What materials should I look for in an eco-friendly yoga mat?

A lot of yoga mats out there have PVC in them, a plastic known as polyvinyl chloride, which is what gives them a slight chemical smell when rolling out. If you’re looking for a mat that’s kinder to the planet, you should, first of all, avoid this material.

More eco-friendly options include yoga mats made from natural rubber, cork, cotton or jute.

The verdict: Yoga mats

Whether you’re returning to your local yoga studio after a bit of a break or you’ve started practising yoga more frequently at home with online virtual classes, you’ll need a reliable mat. We really rate both Lululemon’s reversible yoga mat and Liforme’s yoga mat, but our favourite has to be Yogi Bare’s Paws Natural rubber yoga mat. Ticking boxes when it comes to size, weight, cushioning and non-slip technology, we also love the brand’s commitment to sustainability and fostering important conversations around mental health.

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